China’s Great Wall is one of the world’s great feats of engineering and an enduring monument to the strength of an ancient civilization. This network of fortifications is the product of countless labors over a period of some two thousand years. Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of a unified China, took the remnants of truly ancient fortifications, walls, and earthworks begun in the fifth century B.C. and linked them into a unified wall circa 220 B.C. as part of a massive project to protect China against marauding barbarians from the north.
By the time construction on most of the stone-and-brick Great Wall, with its turrets and watchtowers, was completed during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), the Ming Wall had become the world’s largest human-made object. At its peak, this amazing the Ming Wall was guarded by more than one million men. It has been estimated that somewhere in the range of 2 to 3 million Chinese died as part of the centuries-long project of building the wall.
The Mutianyu Great Wall served as the northern protective screen, guarding the capital and imperial mausoleums for generations.